As per the World Health Organization estimates, out of total 37 million blind persons (Visual Acuity <3/60) in the world, 6.7 million are in India, which is one-fifth of the total global blind population.
As per the Eye Bank Association of India, Hyderabad, there are 500 Eye Banks/ Eye Donation Centres in the country including 148 in Maharashtra. Around 30,000 donated eyes are collected annually in the country.
There are about 6000 Optometrists in India and about 1200 pass out every year. More Optometrists are needed to fulfill patients' requirements for eye care in the country as the Ophthalmologists - para medical personnel ratio should be 1:4.
As per the survey conducted during 2006-07, the prevalence of Blindness in the country has come down to 1% as compared to 1.1% during the year 2001-02.
The National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) is committed to reduce the burden of avoidable blindness to 0.3% by the year 2020.
The following steps have been taken under NPCB to achieve the targets and for effective implementation of the programme:-
· Setting up of State Blindness Control Societies and District Blindness Control Societies in States/UTs.
· Providing Eye care facilities to the needy people at Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels through Primary Health Centres, District Hospitals, Medical Colleges and Regional Institutes of Ophthalmology.
· Strengthening of Eye Banks in Government/Voluntary Sector.
· Financial support to NGOs for strengthening their existing infrastructure for Eye care and providing recurring grant for Cataract surgery, School Eye Screening and Eye Donation.
· Organizing Eye Donation Fortnight from 25th August to 8th September every year to promote eye donation.
· Screening of School Children for detection of refractive errors and providing free spectacles to poor children.
· Strengthening of Regional Institutes of Ophthalmology/eye departments of Medical Colleges by providing assistance for development of paediatric eye units/low vision units/retina units and training infrastructure.
· Imparting training to Ophthalmic Surgeons from Government Hospitals/Medical Colleges for quality eye care.
· Intensification of IEC activities to create awareness about eye care activities.
This information was given by the Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.